Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Art of Photography: Assignment 1 - Large/Small

I have been trying to complete this category for some time. It was one of the simpler idea's, a macro close up shot of an interesting subject to make it look 'large' and a contrasting shot showing it's actual size.

The problems I had were that I wanted to photograph an insect or small animal and at this time of year there are far less around. The weather has been bad also, and although I went out looking several times I wasn't having any luck. I also needed to find something which would be okay for the 'small' image, as when getting a close up macro of something and showing detail which is not normally seen it is easier to create an interesting image, but the same subject much smaller in the frame may be boring. For example I did have a good photograph of some toadstools where I laid on the ground and got in close, resulting in a lot of detail and toadstools that looked as big as trees. However, I tried to photograph the contrasting 'small' image and found that small toadstools surrounded by mud didn't really make a good picture!

I had more luck today though and managed to complete the category. I had been looking for spiders and found a tree with dead wood. Removing some of the bark uncovered a lot of creepy crawlies and one very large spider. It was difficult to photograph however as I had to try and get the camera and tripod in amongst lots of other branches and consequentially I couldn't photograph the spider as I might have liked. I couldn't get a clear angle to show as much detail as I wanted. I also had to use a high ISO in the dark woods, to try and increase shutter speed to get a sharp image, which meant there was more noise in the final image. I am fairly happy with what I achieved though.

For the 'small' photograph I faced the same problem as before, trying to make an interesting image. So I tried to find an angle and composition to improve the image and settled on two intersecting branches at diagonals in the frame and selective depth of field, with the spider in the right of the frame.


Image taken at f/5, 0.6 sec, ISO-1600 and 100mm.


Image taken at f/11, 0.6 sec, ISO-800 and 100mm.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Art of Photography: Assignment 1 - Black/White

Whilst the idea for this category tries to convey a serious message or idea, shooting the photographs was a lot of fun. As with the Hard/Soft category I didn't have any experience with photographing or directing people and it was all a learning curve. However I had gained a little bit of confidence by this point and felt more able to ask for the types of expressions I wanted.

I was quite pleased with some aspects of the photographs. I was happy with the lighting and equally pleased with the expressions captured. We tried many different expressions on the day so I had a few to choose from.

However, I wasn't quite as pleased with how the make-up turned out. I have no experience with make-up whatsoever and we didn't know which would be best to use and which could produce the best results. I had hoped the make-up would be flat and even, to look more like natural skin. I felt this would make people think more, as they would at first see a natural looking face and then realise that the skin colour was different to the shoulders and body. As you can see from the pictures the make-up was quite uneven and is clearly not natural, instead being instantly recognizable as make-up. I would have wished this to be better but I still believe the images convey the message I wished, just a little less subtlely. Again this was all part of the learning for me. Overall though I am still pleased with this category.


Image taken at f/2.8, 1/200 sec, ISO-100 and 100mm.


Image taken at f/2.8, 1/200 sec, ISO-100 and 100mm.

Art of Photography: Assignment 1 - Hard/Soft

I enjoyed doing this category as well as the Black/White category. It was the first time I have both photographed and worked with people so it was a learning experience.

I believe my idea to show two sides of a personality or character worked out quite well. However, I would have prefered a more stern expression for the 'hard' photograph. This is one of the things I have learnt from the experience, that when working with people you need to be direct about what you want, where as I probably didn't explain or give direction as well as I could have.

For the 'hard' image we set up in front of a doorway to shoot a doorman scene. We had to ask the real security guard for permission! It was raining quite heavily and I was trying to work the camera under a waterproof covering, and I was also concious of keeping everybody standing in the rain for too long, so I felt rushed. I feel I could have done better if I relaxed and took my time but again this was all part of the learning experience for me. I was still pleased with the image and liked the doormans reflection in the glass. Though again I could have lined this up a little better with more time and focus.

I was also pleased with how the 'soft' image turned out. At the time I thought it might not be as good as I had imagined as I felt the couch used could have been better, and we had to use a toy baby. However, I set up the camera to shoot from above the couch, arranged the flash guns to try and achieve some interesting lighting, and tried to find an interesting composition. Overall I was pleased with what I had managed to do and the final image.

Both images were taken in colour and converted to black and white later so that I had more control over the tones.

I feel both photographs convey what I had hoped. That one side of this persons character is a doorman and has to be tough, hardened. Whilst the other is a soft, caring and loving father.


Image taken at f/3.5, 1 sec, ISO-100 and 20mm.


Image taken at f/3.5, 1/100 sec, ISO-100 and 18mm.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Art of Photography: Assignment 1 - Long/Short

For this category I chose to focus on trees. Mainly because whilst I was out and about a little while ago I spotted a really tall tree and wanted to try and shoot it from a very low angle to create an interesting image. So that became my idea for the 'long' photograph.

For the 'short' photograph I tried to think of the other extreme, a very short tree, so I decided to try and capture a bonsai tree next to something else which would exaggerate how small it was.

Unfortunately I am not too happy with how this category turned out. Whilst trying to photograph the tall tree from a very low viewpoint I did find some very interesting angles, but I felt that as I was photographing the length of the tree the branches became too compact and ended up being quite messy and distracting in the composition. I eventually used another angle which was still very low to the ground but slightly further away. I lined the tree up with another couple in the distance to exaggerate how tall it was. I also cropped the image to be taller and again exaggerate how tall the tree was. I was then quite happy with this picture overall as the sky was good and I got a good exposure on the image. However it wasn't an unusual angle and composition as I set out to achieve.

As for the 'short' image, I originally planned to photograph it next to a person as I felt it would more easily show how small it was. I tried this but wasn't happy with the results. I then thought about photographing it in front of another tree trunk, with the trunk out of focus. I thought this might maintain the tree theme and show how small the bonsai was at the same time. The result was slightly better but I still wasn't pleased with it. On both cases I found it hard to show a lot of detail and interest in the bonsai tree. As it was quite small and I needed to photograph from a distance to included the larger subject as well, the bonsai kept looking messy and lacking any detail or definition. And if I tried to focus on more detail of the bonsai I couldn't included enough of the background to make the bonsai look small.

So overall neither of the images for this category turned out like I had imagined, but I was still pleased with the 'long' image at least.


Image taken at f/11, 1/30 sec, ISO-100, 18mm.


Image taken at f/2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO-400, 100mm.

Art of Photography: Assignment 1 - Many/Few

Whilst at the shops I spotted one of those candle mirrors where the light is reflected in the mirror. I decided it might be good for the many/few category, with a photograph of the candles 'as is' for the few photo, and then a photograph of them reflected in the mirror for the many photograph.

I set up the candles at home, on a black background, but knew I didn't want to use flash but rather the light from the candles. I first tried to photograph the three candles for the 'few' image, trying to find interesting angles and compositions. Then for the 'many' image I had to line up the camera in front of the mirror. At first I could see the reflection of the camera and tripod in the image, so I had to block out as much light as possible in the room and cover the camera and tripod with a dark sheet. Then it was just a case of finding an exposure and focus point I was happy with. I tried a few different things including focusing on the mirror, blurring the front candles, overexposing and capturing light bursts around the candles, but I eventually settled on trying to get a sharper image.

To begin with I thought this was probably one of the weaker idea's, but I am quite pleased with how both images turned out.


Image taken at f/2.8, 1/4 sec, ISO-100, and 100mm.


Image taken at f/32, 5 sec, ISO-400 and 100mm.